Whatever the ad format, here are seven tactics to ensure that your Facebook ads get results:
Never run a Facebook ad campaign without A/B testing
Facebook offers strong, intuitive, ad-testing capabilities. Try several different ad headlines, images, offers, and calls to action. You will be stunned by the performance variations between versions. Even veteran marketers are often surprised by which version wins.
Take advantage of audience targeting
Test identical ads on different target audiences. For instance, try targeting your brand’s fans versus friends of fans versus friends of rival brands (with your fans excluded). Brand loyalists and variously qualified prospects will all demonstrate different cost-per-action. And employ highly personalized ads for specific audiences: try geo-targeted regions, gender splits, or zeroing in on a hypertargeted audience like students at a particular college or employees of a particular business. Facebook’s signature strength is the wealth of data it collects on its fans’ demographics, likes, and interests. Use it to your benefit as a marketer.
Local Businesses: Facebook Offers
Facebook Offers is a feature initially available to “a small number of local businesses” but now in wide release. At first available free to select accounts, Facebook Offers are now a paid promotion, costing a minimum of $5 per offer. Facebook Offers also require an additional promotional commitment through Sponsored Stories.
With Facebook Offers, eligible bricks-and-mortar shops can create a 90- character headline, like “Buy one pair of socks, get another pair free,” then enter other criteria to support special deals to be shared in the newsfeeds of their followers.
Facebook Sponsored Search Results
Search Results is another piece of Facebook real estate that recently went up for sale. Now, you can pay to promote any Facebook page, app, or other entity, within the “type-ahead” results on Facebook search. But if you’re picturing keyword-targeted ads modeled on Google AdWords, think again.
If you like the idea of FBX remarketing (which means paying Facebook to target your own website visitors when they’re on Facebook), you’ll love the new Facebook Custom Audiences. With Custom Audiences, you actually upload your own in-house customer database to Facebook, and then use that audience as a target for Facebook ad campaigns.
Action Spec Targeting
In January 2012, Facebook launched Open Graph “action spec targeting,” made possible by a network of over 60 partner applications linking popular websites and mobile apps with the Facebook timeline. Facebook also published action spec developer tools so that additional third-party app developers could join the party.
Facebook Premium Ads
For managed accounts working with a rep or through the Ads API, Premium placements are a way to “go big” with home-page and logout placements. These units have been employed by movie studios, automakers, and other advertisers wanting to reach a mass audience. Generally, they cost around $10 per thousand impressions, and require a minimum spend of $10,000 a month.
Over 450 million people a month access Facebook from a mobile device, and the rate of mobile use is outpacing desktop use by a factor of two to one. Facebook reaches 80% of the total mobile audience, and the Facebook app is the third most popular of all mobile apps.
Do Facebook Ads Really Work?
So how do you make sense of this flurry of new ad units? Do Facebook users love them or hate them—ignore them or respond to them? Facebook itself reports that a variety of third-party studies of over 60 ad campaigns on Facebook have found that 70% achieved a return of 3x or better on ad spend. Of those, 49% achieved a return of 5x or better.
Not everyone is confident that Facebook advertising is effective. On the very eve of Facebook’s public offering, automaker General Motors pulled its Facebook advertising—a hefty $10 million a year media buy.
I’ve been spending online ad dollars ever since GoTo launched for pennies a click in the late 1990s (yeah, okay grandpa, keep talking…). I have seen great ad platforms delivering high ROI—and I’ve seen many ludicrous ways to pour perfectly good money down the drain. Social media advertising is as new today as CPC search ads were back then. We’re already witnessing hits and misses and a rapid-fire pace of change. The cost and value of a social media click or impression are still proving themselves; in coming years they will come nearer to equilibrium.